Longing for Comfort

by | Feb 18, 2024 | Podcast, Sermons

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Preacher: Pastor David Ball

Scripture: Lamentations 1:1-22

The season of Lent is about honest self-examination and putting away all pretenses in our relationship with God and one another.  It might sound somber, but the reality is that the season of Lent is pointing us to the Hope of God’s grace in His Son Jesus Christ.  The Book of Lamentations is in many ways the perfect book for the season.  Through honest self-examination, God’s people came to the conclusion that they desperately needed a comforter in their lives.  Come and listen as God answers their cry and provides us with the comfort that we so desperately need in Jesus. 

Transcript

Well today we we come to the the end of our series uh during the season of epiphany that we’ve been walking through in Paul’s letter to the Philippians and uh for those who maybe haven’t been with us or have missed here and there uh a little bit of reminder of why we’re we’ve been going through Paul’s letter to the Philippians that that’s because one of Paul’s primary concerns was that despite all the hardships all the things that the church in Philippi were going through uh that they would continue to advance The Gospel Mission in the world and that’s exactly where the Lord has us as we went through our season or our series through a year and a half in the book of Acts the Lord planted that seed of the need to begin pushing more and more into advancing the gospel in the world and and sharing our faith with others and so Philippians as being Paul’s letter uh from really at the end of Acts when we left Paul in prison uh in Rome Paul wrote this letter to the Church of Philippi from that prison and so in some ways it was a continuance of that concern for the gospel and yet we found that uh despite all the outside noise and all of the uh all of the threats that the the church in Philippi was facing uh they were they were facing threats in their culture uh in Philippi itself there were those who were uh the Pagan culture around them didn’t like what they were about and they were getting threatened by them uh they were getting threats from the judaizers so in some way within the somewhat fold of the the church and the religious people were putting pressure on them as well telling them that you know what you know this faith in Christ alone uh being saved by grace alone it that’s not enough you need to be more you got to do more you got to you got to become Jewish you’ve got to do all the stuff and all the rituals and become circumcised and become a Jew and then you’ll be good enough for God and then you can be part of the family you can be part of the club they were facing that threat as well uh they were also we’ve seen facing the threat of of financial hardship and yet even in their financial hardship they still found a way to sacrificially uh raise up money to send to Paul because they knew Paul was suffering and they wanted to help uh uh equip him for what he needed while this time he was in prison and you know while he was in prison the mission continued to bear fruit he told us a couple weeks ago that even when he was in prison he wanted them to know that the gospel’s still advancing despite the hardships I’m going through uh the the Christ is known throughout the whole petorian guard this incredibly influential group that that goes all the way up to uh to the emperor himself they’re they know that I’m here for Christ The Gospel is being proclaimed even now but despite all these outside threats that they were facing which I think we can relate to right you know we we’re facing a lot of threats in our culture in our country ones that have us probably pretty anxious uh and feeling that uh that maybe persecution is coming or that uh you know that that things are are looking bad for for Christians uh and the values and what we stand for I know there’s a lot of angst of what we’re feeling about that and and some of those are legit things that we need to be concerned about and pay attention to but through all that in Paul’s letter he doesn’t address any of the outside stuff he doesn’t tell them how they need to to fight more and they need to uh just you know how they need to strategize themselves uh to be to be a force against the culture around them that wasn’t what he was worried primarily again he’s not saying not to but but but what he’s concerned first and foremost is about their own Hearts because Paul in in this letter M makes it clear that that their own hearts out of their own Hearts is where the real advancement of the Gospel is going to come as they shine as lights as Paul said for the gospel in the world around them which is an inside out process that’s where lives are going to be changed that’s where the gospel is going to advance it’s not going to advance because every other threat was destroyed the church is always going to face threats again not that we shouldn’t address them but we’re always going to face them we always have from the very beginning and so Paul’s turned it internal how are our hearts how have our hearts been captured and transformed by by the Gospel of Jesus Christ because that’s where the witness to the world of the transformational power and love of God God and his son Jesus Christ is going to come from so that’s what we’ve been looking at as we make this push as God’s planted the seed this desire to be reaching others for Christ that it can’t be all about us that it’s about those who aren’t here those who are walking in darkness that need the Light of Christ as he’s planted that seed he’s also showing that we’ve got to work on our own Hearts before we worry about everybody else around us and so today there’s lots in in chapter 4 my goodness I I really this we could we could go a whole month just on just on Philippians 4 and so I’ve got one sermon to do it uh and I’m not going to attempt to do it all I I can’t we’re going to do the first part of it and uh the Lord will bring it back another day for us to uh to look at the the second half uh of this chapter but you know there’s places in Paul’s letter where Paul gives some imper narratives you know Paul’s all about Grace but there’s some places where he speaks pretty forcefully and he like and he’ll tell us what we need to do this is an imperative you need to be about this and there’s three things here in uh in the beginning uh of chapter 4 uh that Paul says are imperative in our advancing The Gospel Mission and that we’re supposed to do it in rejoicing we’re supposed to do it with gentleness and we’re supposed to always do it through prayer so I want to look at those more closely as what how Paul was writing to uh to the Philippians today so I invite you if you’ve got your Bibles you can open up to uh Philippians chapter 4 uh if not your uh your insert has got it printed there for you and you can follow along as we talk about uh this first part of uh of chapter 4 together in verse one Paul wrote therefore my brothers whom I love and long for my joy and Crown stand firm thus in the Lord my beloved and then he goes on to tell us about an issue that obviously was a big one if this issue was big enough that it needed to make its way into Paul’s letter then it was a significant issue that was going on in the church in Philippi he says I entreat you odia and I entreat uh ciny to agree in the Lord yes I ask you also a True Companion help these women who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life and so Paul had the need in this letter because of the message that he had gotten from apodus about what’s going on in their letter to Paul uh he knew that there was a something going on and especially between these two women you know if you’ll remember when Paul was uh first visited Mass cedonia when he first visit visited Philippi the Lord had called him there remember by the vision of the uh of the man who was saying come to Macedonia and help us and then uh he he had that vision and then he shared it with uh with Timothy and with Luke and with the group that was with them he shared the vision and they all together discerned this is the Lord telling us where to go to Macedonia and when they went to Macedonia Paul Went Down by the Riverside uh where where it was known that there would be was a group Gathering there for prayer mainly of women uh and there he he went with to them and he joined their their prayer group and he began to tell them about Jesus Christ the son of God who’s come into the world to save us and if you remember the the primary receiver of that message uh was Lydia Lydia received the gospel as he proclaimed it and her life was transformed and she and her whole family uh were baptized and they invited Paul and Timothy and and Luke back to her house that they would make that their base camp you know she was on fire for the Lord and so uh we know that there that women were a strong leadership force in that church in Philippi uh they they they were part of it we don’t know what to what level and all that stuff we we can’t be certain that Paul doesn’t tell us uh but we know they were incredibly important they were incredibly uh vital and influential and they were co- laborers with Paul meaning co- and every way you were with me together we were working this gospel message we are Partners together again we’re not talking about what level of leadership here whether it’s uh you know what their titles were Paul doesn’t tell us so we we we can’t know here but we know they were important and vital and this disagreement which man I wish I knew wouldn’t you love to know what it was you know it’d be great maybe it’s just because I’m nosy uh and and who doesn’t like a good controversy right it kind of draws us in uh we don’t know what the issue is we’re not told but we know it’s significant enough it’s significant enough that Paul says he rebukes them and calls them to agreement in the Lord but not only for them to agree in the Lord he does just call them out he calls out everyone right to help them because why is Paul so concerned about this dysfunction and this disagreement uh that it erupted in the church he’s worried about it because he’s worried about the advancement of the Gospel El Mission yes he’s worried about them and he cares about them it’s very clear in this whole letter that Phil that he wrote to the Philippians about Paul’s incredible affection for them the time that they spent together was incredibly meaningful the relationships were deep uh but Paul isn’t just saying Hey I want you all to get along because I love you and it hurts me to see you hurting each other he was worried about the greater witness of the church and their ability to continue advancing the gospel and so so we encourage them you this has got to be worked out you’ve got to come to agreement in the Lord now I wish we we knew if they did I wish we knew how it went uh and what they steps they took to reconciliation and all of that it’d be great to know that uh but we don’t we just know that they were encouraged that this was something that needed to be dealt with and they needed to come to agreement in the Lord but then Paul goes on with these three imperatives which I don’t think it’s a I don’t think it’s just by chance that these come right after uh him talking about this a disagreement that was happening and the threat that it was uh within the church body itself to the witness to the gospel Paul gives these three these three imperatives rejoice in the lord always again I will say rejoice let your reasonableness be known to everyone the Lord is at hand do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God the three imperatives rejoice in the lord always let your reasonableness be known to everyone and do not be anxious about anything I don’t think it’s any any uh coincidence that Paul pairs this right after talking about what was going on and the division that existed and the relationship that was broken I think Paul’s Paul’s showing them that that a heart that of a church and of a people of God uh that follow these imperatives uh is the way to having peaceful relationship within the body uh that we might be powerful Witnesses for the gospel outside of the body to the world around us and so let’s look at each of these uh for just a moment each of these imperatives the first one rejoice in the lord always and again I say Rejoice you know last week I talked about rejoicing so uh you can go back and and hear in in some more detail because this is a primary theme as well throughout Paul’s letter to the Philippians the importance of rejoicing and the importance of rejoicing and how it is a witness in itself to the people around us just how core it is and and to remind you from last week because the the root word of Rejoice means to lean into and so what rejoices is it’s the outflowing of the human heart that has experienced the grace of God being leaned into that God has come in his son Jesus Christ that he has come to us that he hasn’t waited for us to be good enough and to work our way to him to be good enough for him he has come he’s come to be with us there a great uh book by uh a theologian named Gerhard for was uh wrote a book called where God meets man it’s not at the top God meets man at the bottom he meets us where we are right now in our sin and our failure and our Brokenness rejoicing is the outflowing of when you know that you are broken when you know that you are lost when you know just how sinful you are that God still loves you and that he has come and leaned into you

that’s what rejoicing is it just flows out of the human heart but Paul says not just to have joy he says Rejoice always I wish he hadn’t said always I could I could deal with it if it was just sometimes um I could deal if it was just every once in a while or when things are going well he says always in every circumstance in other words Rejoice but how in the world can we do that and Paul’s not talking about some sort of superficial happiness he’s not he’s not talk telling us that we need to pretend to everybody around us that we’re happy despite the you know the crushing weight we’re feeling in life and the Brokenness that that we’re in the loss and the hurt that we’re experiencing it that’s not the same thing as what he’s talking about here it’s not superficial so how can we rejoice when life’s hard when things are stacked up against us you know I I shared this on Christmas Eve actually so I know one you won’t remember or two you weren’t here um um I’m just kidding we had a lot of you were here but it was at the later service I shared this uh with the adult sermon not the children’s sermon uh dedri Bon Hoffer who if if you don’t know was a a pastor and theologian in Germany during World War II and you know uh if you know your history at all you know uh that many of the churches were com you know complicit with uh with with Hitler and Nazi Germany and what they were doing at least they didn’t fight against it they just kind of went along with it uh but Bon Hofer was one of those who was burdened by it and didn’t and in fact was arrested as allegedly we don’t even know full the full story of it but it was alleged that he was part of a plot to at least help in some way or to Aid a group who was trying to uh assassinate Hitler uh but so he was sent to prison and as he was in prison he kept getting messages of his brothers in Christ and Sisters in Christ who were being killed and who were dying for their faith and it was a heavy burden not only himself he was suffering uh but uh he was uh but he was burdened by those around him who were suffering and one of his and maybe the very last letter that we have from Bon Hofer from prison uh he wrote this which I just find so incredibly powerful this Joy which no one shall take from us he wrote belongs not only to those who have been called home meaning those who have died are now experiencing the fullness of joy but not only for them but also to us who are alive we are one with them in this Joy but never in Melancholy how are we going to be able to help those who have become joyless and discouraged if we ourselves are not borne Along by courage and joy nothing contrived meaning not a fake kind of Joy or forced is what I intend here but something that’s bestowed something that’s freely given Joy abides with God and it comes down from God and it Embraces spirit and soul and body and where there where this Joy has seized a person there it spreads there it carries uh one away there it burst open the closed doors the joy of God has gone through the Poverty of the manger the agony of the Cross that’s why it’s Invincible that’s why it’s irrefutable it does not deny the anguish when it is there but finds God in the midst of it in fact precisely there it does not deny grave sin but it finds forgiveness precisely in this way it looks death straight in the eye but it finds life precisely within it that’s what Joy is that God has leaned into us by his grace and nothing can change it nothing can take the get away from us because God is the fullness of joy and when he makes it his business and his longing and his work to come into our lives it burst out in rejoicing and why is that so important to our witness in the world and the lost people around us because when that burst out the vision of Heaven is breaking out to those who can’t see it right now that are living in the darkness yes we are walking as The Shining lights of the gospel and the rejoicing of what God has done for us not in the stuff that we could ever do for him and so Rejoice he says in the lord always and again I’m going to tell you to Rejoice it’s that important I’m going to tell it to you over and over and over again but then it goes on let your reasonableness also be known to everyone well what does that mean to let your reasonableness be known to everyone well the the word word itself that Paul uses it means to be gentle it means to be mild to be forbearing fair moderate Equitable yielding that doesn’t always feel very natural does it we want to fight I want to fight I want to win I I want to defeat those who are around me you know I want to I want to reign supreme I don’t want to be gentle that seems kind of weak think about the James spoke to this as well in James 3 verse1 17 James wrote this and this is why I think Paul’s saying this is so important to our advancing The Gospel Mission this showing being gentle people and showing gentleness to the culture around us he says but the wisdom from above is first pure then Peaceable gentle open to reason full of mercy and good fruits impartial and sincere and Harvest and a harvest of righteousness is soon is sown in Peace by those who make peace so there’s a reason why why Paul’s so concerned about their showing gentleness it’s not just so they’d be nice to everybody and everybody play nicely there’s something deeper there’s something far more transformative about this there’s something that uh that reflects something bigger than even ourselves and how nice we are because gentleness as James said is a witness to the wisdom of

heaven when we have a harshness when we want to fight we’re not a reflection of Heaven at all we’re a reflection of hell we’re a reflection of A Life That’s divided and apart from God not one that is uh that has been transformed by his grace we don’t reflect him in any way to those uh who are around us and just think about Jesus’s words himself you know in all of Jesus’s words uh Jesus rarely gives us a picture into what was his own heart in his own words right we get pictures of it throughout scripture of what Jesus’s heart was but Jesus tells us very specifically what his heart was in Matthew 11 verse 29 when he says take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and lowly in heart and you will find rest best for your souls it’s in our ability having been transformed by the grace of God being filled with the joy of God that we’re in humility then able to show gentleness to reflect Heaven itself the wisdom of God revealed to the world we’re able to reflect it to others and to give it away to them Brendan Manning many of you who’ve uh who’ve read aba’s child uh if you haven’t it’s an awesome one and you we need to read it over and over again he wrote this as we come to grips with our own selfishness and stupidity we make friends with the impostor and accept that we are impoverished and broken and realize that if we were not we’d be God the art of gentleness towards ourselves leads to being gentle with others and is a natural prere prerequisite to our pre for our presence to God God In Prayer we’re going to get to that last part another but what that means is if we don’t have the ability to show gentleness to

others and that’s a reflection of that we haven’t ourselves found rest in the gentleness of Jesus and in the weight of our own sin and the weight of our own Brokenness before God we haven’t felt it we haven’t been broken by it because if you’ve experienced the gentleness of God’s grace leading into your life when you don’t deserve it you haven’t experienced that then yeah you’re going to be CR more critical with people you’re going to be more harsh with people you’re going to want to fight all the time but if you’ve experienced that gentleness there’s a longing to share that gentleness with others that they would come to know it our showing gentleness is is reflection of the god of the universe his wisdom Our Savior Jesus Christ who’s come into this world to save them and there’s iron there’s irony in this too you know we think that gentleness is weakness that gentleness nothing is no Force for any change in this world that’s what I think we like to think but you know William Shakespeare I’m not quoting him next to God or anything uh but as you like it uh it said this what you what would you have your gentleness shall Force more than than your Force move us to gentleness kind of confusing I know a lot of we’re gentleness but but the idea is that our gentleness is a force it’s a force in the world that is totally taken off guard by it that isn’t looking for it we live in a world where we are that is apart from God and is looking for a fight and when we come in with with confidence and contentment and a gentleness that flows out of it it’s completely disarming it’s a force for change in people’s lives who are living in darkness it’s powerful it’s incredibly powerful so we’re called not only to rejoice in the lord always we’re called to be gentle to make it our gentleness known to everyone but finally that last one which may be the hardest do not be anxious about anything about anything you know I love Billy Joel anybody love Billy Joel here um love Billy Joel you know know that song uh pressure you know the one I’m talking about it’s uh you have to learn to pace yourself pressure you’re just like everybody else pressure you’ve only had to run so far so good but you will come to a place where the only thing you feel are loaded guns in your face and you’ll have to deal with pressure it’s the most anxiety-ridden song I’ve ever heard right like you know it’s not the one you listen to to calm down and to to get a hold of yourself it’s like and and that’s the point it’s brilliant you know the way he did it you you feel what he what he’s singing in that uh it just uh it echoes so so deeply but Paul here is telling us do not be anxious about anything that’s the condemning part right or at least not the condemning that’s not the right word convicting part about anything do not be anxious I can tell you this morning I I didn’t sleep very well last night I was feeling anxious you know that that anxious that you get that just keeps waking you up like you don’t get that full night sleep like it keeps pop your eyes keep pop open like oh man I was feeling anxious about this morning I was feeling anxious about this sermon I was feeling anxious about uh about leading this church in a in a major transition time that’s coming feeling completely inadequate in every way to be able to do it and feeling a pressure to have to perform and all these things and the anxieties were just running in me and it was just waking me up I I couldn’t sleep and yet then I’m like what a crazy

irony you know God definitely has a sense of humor yeah yeah don’t be anxious David don’t be anxious about anything but he’s you know Paul’s just reflecting what Jesus said right that we read just a few minutes ago do not be anxious about your life what you’re going to eat what you’re going to drink don’t be anxious about your body don’t be anxious about tomorrow for tomorrow’s problems are sufficient in their own right Paul’s making this an imperative though just as Jesus said do not be

anxious have you been able to accomplish

it me

neither but it’s still an imperative it still stands before me and so because it stands stands before me what does that mean what does that mean about me what does that mean about us that are lives are so full of anxiety that we’re not able to live into this that we’re not able just to follow and say oh yeah Jesus I got that one you know thanks for making me feel good about myself I can I can do that what is anxiety what what what does it what does it reveal in us what does it to say about us well what does uh what does Jesus say in in that passage he said you don’t have to worry about these things um you know you don’t have to worry about them because doesn’t aren’t you of more value to the Lord than the way he takes care of everything else so what that tells us is you know where anxiety comes from it comes from a heart of doubt I don’t believe not all the time time that I’m of more value than everybody else not everybody else I don’t mean you you’re of infinite value but uh of more value than everything else you know of God’s creation and the way he cares about it I doubt it and when I doubt it the fear comes because now it’s all relying on me it’s on I’ve got to be able to do it this is in my own power and my own strength and the anxiety comes and it can be absolutely crippling in our lives say Augustine uh said it this way the punishment for every disordered mind is its own disorder anxiety flows out of that fear because we doubt God and what he if we’re of infinite value to him and that he’s got us and we doubt that and that’s disorder that creates disorder and and as as Augustine said the punishment is the disorder it’s that we continue to feel that but then Paul goes into there there there’s an answer for this there’s an answer for this and there’s a place that we’re supposed to take the anxiety when it convicts us that we are not able to live into this call of not being anxious we’re supposed to live into this next

part do not be anxious about anything but in everything by prayer and supplication with Thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God the anxiety is an example it’s a revelation of the disorder of Our Lives that we’re not trusting in God that we’re trusting in ourselves and the anxiety itself is meant to drive us to our knees to drive us to the Lord in prayer you know see as Louis said it you know that I know it’s way overused maybe even cliche but I don’t pray to change uh to change God I pray that God may change me because that’s what happens in prayer God’s reordering our hearts and our lives as we come to him in prayer and we lay out our needs before him and we give thanks to him being a Eucharistic people a people of Thanksgiving for what God has done for us he reorders our lives he reorders the way we

think that life isn’t dependent upon ourselves and our own strength and our own power that we are utterly dependent upon God himself and that he loves us and he’s good

and that we’re of infinite value to him and when we we enter into prayer it transforms our own Hearts our own lives then the result is finally as Paul writes in verse 7 and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and Minds in Christ Jesus that sounds familiar doesn’t it say it every

Sunday because when we come in prayer before the Lord and He reorients our lives away from ourselves and our self sufficiency and uh and relying on our own strength he drives us back to the Cross drives us back to what he has accomplished for us his work in our lives and when we come back to the Cross Before Our Savior Jesus Christ The Prince of Peace himself he gives us the peace that surpasses understanding meaning that that is is Supernatural that even in the midst of all the craziness and all the hurt and all the Brokenness around us we can have peace we can have peace even in the midst of it because Christ is with us God’s grace abides with us because he has leaned in to our lives friends we’re called to advance The Gospel Mission it’s the call the Lord has placed on our lives as Church of our savior it’s why we’re expanding this building we’re not doing it just for ourselves so that we can get a little more elow room and uh uh and have all the bells and whistles and the things that we want uh you know it this is about reaching people for Christ making the space that’s needed thinking through how we’re doing things to where someone who is walking in darkness who comes as a guest into our worship can encounter the Living God who can experience for themselves the joy that we are are just shining forth that we’ve experienced in God’s grace in Our Lives who can experience the gentleness that has planted in our hearts because of the gentleness of Christ for us they can have their lives reordered as our lives are being reordered in prayer before God we’re called to advance this Gospel Mission to be a reflection of Jesus to the world around

us because who we are in Christ is more important than what we do because What flows out of who we are in Christ that is what is going to transform what we do and is going to shine as a light for the gospel to a world that so desperately needs it amen let me pray father as we end this series you have clearly called us to continue advancing The Gospel Mission and that that advancement starts in our own hearts with our receiving the joy of your grace in our hearts and lives finding the gentleness of our savior as we take his yoke upon us and we learn from him and find rest and that we be transformed in a life of Prayer of coming to you not relying on ourselves and our own strength Lord will you make us a people who shine as a light for the gospel here in Jacksonville Beach and in our communities wherever you’ve placed us Lord Come Holy Spirit be at work in us and in our hearts that we may be gospel people in Jesus name

[Music] amen

 

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